These last weeks I have been reading two books, in norwegian, written by daughters, clearing out their mother’s home. Some years ago my siblings and I did that too, a chore that is something quite else, more like an initiation rite.
Going through item after item, trash and treasures, and deciding;
This you must leave, to grow to what you are to become,
this you may keep, to stay true to who you are,
this you may finally get rid of,
this is not yours to have,
all the time knowing it is only things.
The lesson that could be taken is: “These things are not what your mother left you, but what is, and what is worth keeping?”
One of the authors used the lost Franklin expedition to reflect on what we cherish. The real story about John Franklin and his men getting lost while searching for the Northwest passage in 1845 is still a mystery. Actually a new theory was launched as late as this january. What is known though is that these starving, lost men, pulled their sleds, hoping for salvation, but still throwing away essentials to make their burden lighter. The Inuits and the rescue parties have found tins of food, medical supplies and crucial tools left along the last route. They must have been giving in to despair, realizing all hope was lost. And then, perhaps not, the last things to be ditched were monogrammed silver cutlery and a novel. Why?
I found my copy of the book, The Vicar of Wakefield, and read it through, to understand why and when it would be better than food. I am not sure, what do you think?
To me the real eye opener is not how these lost men prioritized though. The more serious question is of course my own choices, not only when it comes to material belongings,or food versus books, what about relations, obligations, work, beliefs?
When I let something go, what guides my choosing? When I decide to keep on to something, will it really keep me up to the end?